Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes with Sour Cherry Filling and Whipped Cacao Frosting

There is nothing like a little competition to get your creative juices flowing and get you back in the kitchen. At work we are having our annual charity fundraiser events and one of those events is a ‘Death by Cupcakes Contest.’  I am the person who organizes the events, so you’d think I’d pick something that didn’t involve a bunch of food I can’t eat. But I do like proving that gluten free can be just as good as regular baking, and I’m 1 for 2 food contests so far.

One of my co-workers handed me a postcard they picked up with a recipe for “Annie’s Flourless Filbert Cake”, which is gluten free. It was a Galloway’s Specialty Foods recipe card, and I thought I’d try it out. There was of course a small problem with that. I recently had an allergic reaction to filberts (also known as hazelnuts) and had been to an allergy specialist to find out for sure if I was allergic.

I didn’t react to the skin test, but my blood work came back sky high. He asked me my history with hazelnuts and I had said that I’ve had them many times before with no problems but they were always cooked or toasted. The time I had the reaction was when I tried one raw making my raw banana tarts last year.

So he suggested that I might have an oral allergy as opposed to an anaphylactic nut allergy and the only way to test it out, if I wanted, was to do it with lots of people and medicine around. So when my co-worker handed me this recipe with the cupcake contest around the corner I figured why not! I’ll make the cake as I had hazelnuts in a bag that I hadn’t touched since my bad reaction to them and wanted to use them or get rid of them. Then the plan was to take one, baked but not decorated, cupcake to work, where there is allergy medicine and an epee pen and lots of people and try it there. So with about 4 or 5 people staring at me, I took a bite. Nothing happened. After another 15 minutes I took a few more bits. Still nothing. And then since then I’ve had several cupcakes. Hurray! Turns out having them cooked/baked/toasted I’m okay. I just can’t have them raw. That is pretty easy to do.

So I got back to my merry cupcake decorating ways, and decided to jazz up my cupcakes with a sour cherry filling and top them with the suggested whipped cocoa frosting.  My friends, they are delicious!

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes with Sour Cherry Filling and Whipped Cacao Frosting.
-based on Annie’s Flourless Filbert Cake

2 ½ cups ground hazelnuts (you can make your own in a Vitamix blender)
1 cup sugar
½ cup cacao powder
2 tsp baking powder
6 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in a cupcake tin. Then in a large bowl mix hazelnuts, sugar, cacao powder and baking powder together. Then add eggs, one at a time, wile mixing after (or during) each addition.  Pour ¼ of batter into each cupcake liner and then bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Until the top of the cupcake bounces back when you press on it, and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before filing and icing.

To fill the cupcakes, use an apple corer to remove the center of the cupcake (core bits can be made into a personal little trifle with any left over filling and whipped topping, yummy and not wasteful). Then spoon in sour cherry filling and top with whipped cocoa cream frosting. As the frosting is mostly whipped cream, store cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Sour Cherry Filling
-based on recipe by Nick Malgieri

1 598 ml jar of pitted sour cherries
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Pour the liquid contents of the sour cherry jar into a medium sized saucepan and set whole cherries aside. Add sugar and heat slowly to simmering, stirring occasionally. In a separate cup or bowl mix cornstarch and water until all of the cornstarch is dissolved. Then pour this mixture into the simmering cherry liquid while stirring constantly. As soon as the mixture becomes clear and thickens you can remove it from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients, including the actual cherries that are still in the jar.

Whipped Cacao Cream Frosting

2 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup icing sugar
½ cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

In a large bowl, whip the whipping cream, icing sugar, cacao powder and vanilla together until they form stiff peaks. You may chill the bowl for better results. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

Sometimes you just need to bake something sweet and indulgent to make yourself feel better. My boyfriend and I are long distance relationship’ing it while he goes back to school. After a short but wonderful weekend visit, I was sad to see him go. So to console myself I returned to my kitchen … that has been much neglected with all my work travels of late, and made some iced cookies. They are delicious, soft and oh so pumpkiny … which I love and I hope you do too!

Pumpkin Cookie

2 ½ cups Bob Red Mills gluten free all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoons ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder
½ cup butter (softened)

1 cup cane sugar

1 can (398 ml) canned pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup raisons (optional)
¼ cup sunflower seeds (optional)

Cinnamon Vanilla Butter Cream Icing

½ cup of vegetable shortening
½ cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4-5 cups of icing sugar
2 tablespoons of water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, throw all ingredients in and mix well. Scoop with a large spoon onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Top with icing*.

Icing … soften butter to room temperature and then add remaining ingredients and mix well.

* I actually had left over icing that I froze in an airtight container. I just let this defrost and iced the cookies. It was perfect and easy and I still had some left over icing.